Rebecca Millette


Actor Hugh Grant: assisted suicide campaigner a ‘tremendous force for good’

Rebecca Millette

UNITED KINGDOM, June 6, 2011 ( – Hugh Grant has applauded the efforts of well-known British assisted suicide campaigner, Dr. Ann McPherson, who died last week. 

“She was a tremendous force for good,” the British actor told The Independent

Grant is a patron of HealthTalkOnline, a website and charity co-founded by McPherson to provide information to pancreatic cancer patients.  He also supports her campaign group, called Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, founded last year to work for change in Britain’s suicide law.

McPherson, 65, who herself suffered from severe pancreatic cancer, championed the “right” of terminally ill patients to a “dignified” death and used her own experience with cancer to promote a change in the law. 

Although she underwent surgery, McPherson’s cancer reoccurred earlier this year and doctors told her she had only months to live.  She died May 28th.

“She’s right on assisted dying,” said Grant. “That seems to me like the dignified option. I don’t know quite what she wanted in her last few weeks, but she was a great champion of the right to die in a dignified manner, which it seems she did.”

In her last days, McPherson expressed her frustration at her prolonged life in a letter to a close friend, The Telegraph reported.  “I can’t understand why I have to carry on living like this - why can’t I just die?” she wrote. “I really feel furious at this. I think it’s cruel (to stay alive).”

Speaking at a public debate sponsored by the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) last year, McPherson was one of a minority to support changing the law in Britain.

“I know recently a palliative care doctor has said that every suicide is a tragedy. I don’t agree with that,” said McPherson. “I think that assisted dying for someone who is terminally ill may be a celebration, it shouldn’t be seen as a tragedy.”

She added that she doesn’t “want to go somewhere like Switzerland, to Dignitas, to be able to die with dignity. I want to have the option of being able to be in my own home.”

Grant could not agree more. “If you are around someone who you love, who says they want to die, and they say enough’s enough, you would look on that with great sympathy,” the actor told The Independent after McPherson’s death. “A person who is compos mentis should be allowed to die rather than be kept alive and in pain, and without having to go off to Switzerland.”

Meanwhile, a recent survey conducted recently of disabled people in Britain, commissioned by the disability group Scope, found that 70 percent are “concerned about pressure being placed on other disabled people to end their lives prematurely,” “if there were a change in the law on assisted suicide.”

More than a third said they were worried they would personally experience such pressure and fifty-six percent of respondents believed any relaxation of the law would be “detrimental to the way that disabled people are viewed by society as a whole.”

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of Scope, said, “Our survey findings confirm that concerns about legalizing assisted suicide are not just held by a minority, but by a substantial majority of those this law would affect.”

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